Few remember but 1983 was a year of pop groups going into a tailspin. It was all change for British pop. Anything political or still smelling of punk seemed to go out of the window. Bubblegum pop came to the fore.
Pop groups that were set to dominate the 1980s nosedived into the ground like the Hindenburg in 1983. Most shocking was the decision by Fun Boy Three to go their separate ways when it seemed they’d only left The Specials yesterday morning. Strange because looking back, it always seems as if Fun Boy Three were around in the mid-80s. But no – 1983 was the final year.
I co-wrote Neville Staple’s biography and for him, the phone call from Terry Hall was a bit of a surprise. Ultimately it let Neville return to the 2Tone sound and get away from the bouncy pop of Fun Boy Three. The demise of that trio was just the start of the year’s musical bloodshed.
ABBA’s demise was not so surprising – many of their later songs seemed to be about their divorce court proceedings in heavy code. And thank God the Bay City Rollers pulled down the shutters – how on earth did they survive punk, let alone the 1970s? A few short years later, ABBA would enjoy a revival in popularity without reforming. Such good fortune didn’t come to the Rollers.
And then there was Roxy Music – when the LP Avalon was released, it seemed they were at the top of their game again, but all too soon they called it a day. One of the greatest combos of the 70s, a highly intelligent art school pop band, had gone. No more Pyjamarama! Not until they reformed in 2001.
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The Human League wobbled through 1983, nearly coming to an end then struggling past the end of the year to release Lebanon in 1984. Some reports thought they’d gone in 1983 but they held out. Shame as Dare was such a great album at the start of the 80s.
Scritti Politti had been hailed as the future in 1982 but became the past in 1983. Off went Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Wah! – two bands I thought would have a longer lifespan. Dexy’s had toured with the 2Tone bus at the start of the decade.
Altered Images called it a day. In fact, I remember seeing Clare Grogan hanging round the Cambridge pub in Liverpool one day but I didn’t buy her a drink. Yazoo – gone in May, 1983. Female vocalist Alison Moyet continued with a solo career.
Looking back now, you can see that an era was slowly coming to an end. The post-punk explosion of youth cults like mod, 2Tone, New Wave, futurist, etc, etc…would soon give way to new sounds and new bands. 1983 truly was the year pop groups got culled.